Hiking Soldier Pass in Sedona

Anywhere you hike in Sedona will offer beautiful views of the unique landscape that makes this part of Arizona so famous. Soldier Pass in Sedona is no exception, and we particularly enjoyed this hike for the numerous attractions along the path that made the whole adventure fun and incredibly worth it. In addition to the awesome views, this hike tends to be less crowded than some of the other renowned Sedona hikes.

Beautiful views along all of Soldier Pass in Sedona
Beautiful views along all of Soldier Pass in Sedona

Starting the Hike

Soldier Pass trail can be accessed from multiple trailheads. The most popular way to begin the hike is from Soldier Pass Trailhead which lies down Soldier Pass Road. This trailhead is gated and is open from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Soldier Pass trailhead can sometimes become crowded because the Devil’s Kitchen and Seven Sacred Pools are popular attractions near the start of the hike. Also, there is a trail nearby where offroading and Jeep tours are common.

We wanted to get an early start, so we began the hike at the Jordan Road Trailhead. This trailhead is not gated, so you can access it earlier in the morning and later into the evening. If you start here, take Cibola Pass Trail to Jordan trail, which will then tie into Soldier Pass trail.

The Mitten as seen by Jordan Road Trailhead
The Mitten as seen by Jordan Road Trailhead

Hiking Soldier Pass in Sedona

Once you are on Solider Pass trail, you will first come to the Devil’s Kitchen on the right. This large sinkhole is quite impressive, as is the view of the peak behind it. From here, the trail winds around the side of the peak behind the Devil’s Kitchen towards the Seven Sacred Pools.

Standing on the rim of the Devil's Kitchen
Standing on the rim of the Devil’s Kitchen

Less than half a mile past the sinkhole, you’ll see the pools on the left. Depending on the time of year, the pools may be quite full, or they can be empty. When we were there, each pool contained stagnant water and a large amount of frogs and tadpoles. In them, we could see the reflection of the peaks glowing in the morning light.

Reflections in one of the Seven Sacred Pools
Reflections in one of the Seven Sacred Pools

We continued down the trail on a mission to find the Soldier Pass cave. The cave lies off the trail, and we will talk more about getting to it down below. From the cave, people often turn back in order to return the way they came. However, we recommend continuing up the hill towards Brin’s Mesa Trail. This trail runs along the top of the mesa, then drops steeply down towards Jordan Road Trailhead. If you parked at Soldier Pass Trailhead, finish the loop by walking Cibola Pass and Jordan trails between the two trailheads.

Matt on Brin's Mesa Trail

Soldier Pass Cave Bonus

If you find yourself hiking Soldier Pass in Sedona, stopping at the cave is a must. It is a small detour off the main trail, and it is worth the short climb. The turnoff for the cave is about 0.67 miles past the Seven Sacred Pools. This spot isn’t well marked, but you’ll see a faint path leading off the right side of the trail.

From here, a short walk uphill will lead you to an open slickrock clearing. Stay to the left side of the clearing and follow the path uphill. The path is faint at points, but as you continue up towards the hillside and you will see a couple depressions in the cliff face. The cave lies about 0.3 miles off the main trail.

The arch as seen from the slickrock clearing
The arch as seen from the slickrock clearing

When you reach the base of the rocks, you’ll see an arch on the left. To the right of the arch, there is a small log and rock stack that lead up into the cave. It requires a little bit of scrambling but is nothing too technical. Afterwards, many people return to Soldier Pass Trail, then return the way they came. However, if you want to hike the full loop, return to Soldier Pass Trail and continue uphill to Brin’s Mesa.

Views along Brin's Mesa Trail

Overview of Soldier Pass in Sedona

Hike Type: Out and back or Loop

Hike Distance: 5-6 miles for the whole loop, depending on whether you visit the cave

Duration: 2-3.5 hours depending on route, hiking speed, time spent at attractions, and whether you visit the cave

Cost: $5 fee paid at the parking lot

What to Bring: Sturdy shoes, hat, plenty of water, snacks, camera

Hiking Soldier Pass in Sedona makes for a great half-day activity. The hike is not very strenuous and the views are stunning. For much of the trail, especially along Brin’s Mesa, there is no shade, so we recommend going earlier in the morning during hotter months to beat the heat. As with every trail in Sedona, watch for rattle snakes!

The trailheads offer limited parking, so get an earlier start during busy times of year and on weekends. At the trailhead, there are restrooms.

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